Hyperactive Dog, The Role of Nutrition
There is a rule in behavioural nutrition that goes “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t feed it”. This means, stay away from anything synthetic or processed, such as the many man-made chemicals now pumped in and on to our food daily. Even though they have been shown to have an unknown to negative effect on health and behaviour. But as always, it seems the most obvious nutritional lessons in the human world, such as the importance of fresh food, are all too quickly forgotten when treating dogs. Nowhere is this more apparent than feeding a hyperactive dog.
I’m Dr Conor Brady, a canine nutritionist with a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of mammals. I was also a guide dog trainer for five years so it’s fair to say I’m fascinated with behaviour. When I was training on the side, I would insist your dog is raw fed before we do any work for him. I touch on a few reasons why below (though there are many more). How do I benefit? For the most part, articles like this get folk on to my site and it gets me some attention. If you need specialised help you can book me for a consultation. Also, if I link to a product that is important for his recovery, I will track the link. If you buy it I will get a tiny bit of that sale.
A Dogs First’er shared a great post with us a while back. It was in relation to one of the most popular dry foods out there, Bakers, which is, in the words of it’s manufacturer Nestlé, the “UK’s number one complete dry food”.
The particular post has been copied and used by lots of people over the last few years. We found it on reviewcentre.com. Worth checking out other reviews on this site too!
The post reads:
“…BAKERS COMPLETE ADULT AND PUPPY DOG FOOD….would you feed your dog a food which contains THIRTEEN E numbers? Now, it’s the law that dog food manufacturers have to state on their packaging for any bags over 10kg EVERY ingredient. They used to be able to say “EEC permitted colorants and preservatives“.
Here’s the list in full:
– E320: BHT
– E321: Propyl Gallate
– E310: Citric Acid
– E330: Potassium Sorbate
– E202: Propan -1,2-diol
– E490: Iron Oxide
– E172: Indigo Carmine
– E132: Tartrazine
– E102: Sunset Yellow
– E110: Quinoline Yellow
– E104: Titanium Dioxide
– E171: Carbon Black
– E320: has been found to be tumour-producing when fed to rats. In human studies it has been linked with urticaria, angioedema and asthma
– E321: banned for use in food in Japan, Romania, Sweden, and Australia. The US has barred it from being used in infant foods. So bad McNasty’s have voluntarily eliminated it from their products.
– E310: Banned from children’s foods in the US because it is thought to cause the blood disorder methemoglobinemia.
– E172: Banned in Germany
– E132: Can cause skin sensitivity, a rash similar to nettle rash, itching, nausea, high blood pressure and breathing problems. One of the colours that the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group recommends be eliminated from the diet of children.Prohibited in Norway.
– E102: Tartrazine – A trial on 76 children diagnosed as hyperactive, showed that tartrazine provoked abnormal behaviour patterns in 79% of them.
– E110: Sunset Yellow has been found to damage kidneys and adrenals when fed to laboratory rats. It has also been found to be carcinogenic when fed to animals.
– E104: One of the colours that the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group recommends be eliminated from the diet of children. Banned in Australia, Japan, Norway and the United States.
– E171: Banned in Germany.
– E153: Banned as a food additive in the United States of America. Suspected as a carcinogenic agent.”
Why Ultra Processed Dry Food Fuels Hyperactivity in Dogs…
Reason 1: High Chemical Content
We are not sure what is in coloured dry food chemical-wise but for sure they don’t get all those colours naturally! To be honest, this list appears to be a drop in the ocean of the chemicals potentially used to produce dry dog food. Think about packed vegetables in the supermarket that last ten times longer than the grapes bought from a greengrocers. They can put a whole host of stuff in and on food without printing what was used on the label.
With dog food, it’s arguably worse, as many of the ingredients (for example meat meal, the ultra processed waste of the meat industry), will arrive at the dog food manufacturers as a grey flour in drums, preserved with god knows what.
Sadly, manufacturers are still not obliged to list a vast array of chemicals used in the preparation process, from fixatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers, thickeners, anti-caking agents, release agents, bulking agents, stuff to prevent drying out etc. Think about it, two years in a hot, sweaty bag and fungus won’t even grow on it!
Then there is the matter of quantity of chemicals used. What is deemed safe for a dog is far from what is deemed safe for a human. It is not an exact science and with safety and efficacy tests conducted in-house by the pet food companies, it is difficult to know how stringent they actually are.
Finally, the ingredient labels printed by producers do not have to include the chemicals used in or on the ingredients contained within the product. This means that any chemical used in the production process of any of the ingredients does not have to be named.
Reason 2: High Dose Carbohydrates/Sugar and Low Dose Protein
If you couple the chemicals used in dry dog food with the 50% carbohydrate (sugar) content of dry food, you can start to worry. Ever seen kids after a birthday party?! Sugar is rapidly broken down, spiking blood sugar and insulin production which is linked to poor behaviour in humans.
Moreover, all these carbs are at the cost of protein which are included as the minimum amount of protein required by your dog during the day. Protein provides all the building blocks for the happy and calming chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. You leave the body low on these, you get low amounts of serotonin and dopamine.
Reason 3: Vitamin B Complex Soothes the Mind…
Vitamin B complex controls energy levels and brain centres connected with energy use, production and behaviour. Hoffmann La Rodue (1995) found that vitamin B complex levels are at extremely low levels in dry food after only 6 months of storage (little to none of the dry feeds are younger than this). The reason being all water soluble vitamins such as B complex deteriorate rapidly upon exposure to heat and air. It’s very difficult to preserve them, regardless of how many chemicals are used.
Trials are now finding that vitamin B complex (particularly vitamin B6 which helps the brain produce dopamine naturally) is just as good or in some cases better than Ritalin (America’s top selling drug for ADHD kids) for controlling symptoms (see ADHD-Health). We’re only talking about a good helping of spinach here but where’s the ad for spinach?! And it’s not just B complex in the likes of green veg doing the trick but magnesium and zinc too.
If you want to calm a hyperactive dog you should feed foods high in B complex (such as organ meats and green veg).
Why Raw Dog Food Calms a Hyperactive Dog
- No unnatural chemicals
- No carbs / sugar
- High in B vitamins, zinc, selenium, amongst others
To be honest the above list of E numbers is no worse than what is in most sweets fed to children. It’s just that kids, as much as they’d like to, don’t eat them as a part of their staple diet. So hopefully small amounts are not too bad. However many dogs are fed them every meal, every day, all of their life.
The sad thing is a dog doesn’t give a damn what their food looks like (unlike kids with sweets). Those colours and cute fish shapes are there for you. It makes you feel better that it looks like they’re getting real food, that there are peas and meat in the food, but, vitally, this food was produced in a lab, so that it is safe for the dog, unlike that nasty fresh stuff you feed your kids (when you’re not stuffing sweets into them)!!!!
Look at those delicious bowls of food above. Hyperactivity aside, do you seriously believe that is not going to help your dog in every way imaginable?! There are a great many ways raw dog food benefits your dog but behaviour is one of the more noticeable. There are trainers now that will not train a dog if they are dry fed. In fact, as you will see with the video below, even the top behaviourists are now recommending raw dog food to fuel good behaviour.
Try this at home. Remove all the junk from their life. Feed them a simple raw dog food diet. Remove all the junk food products, all the chemical flea and worm control treatments, all the annual boosters, etc. Move them to a nice fresh diet and give it a week. If we’re wrong, that bag of dry food will still be waiting in the cupboard.
Two Natural Products That Will Help Relax a Hyperactive Dog…
Studies show mixtures of vanilla, valerian root, coconut and ginger reduce activity and vocalisations and increase sleeping behaviour in kennelled dogs. Of all these, valerian root is the most effective. You can find valerian for dogs on Amazon where it is often twinned with Tryptophan, also believe to help with anxiety in dogs
Then there is CBD oil. The sheer amount of studies supporting the use of CBD oil for a great range of neurological issues is staggering. CBD is clinically proven to reduce anxiety and stress, so it may help your overly-excited pet. However, CBD is pricey, around $65 for a little bottle.
Hoffmann La Rodue, F. T. (1995). Paper presented at the science and technology Centre, Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc., Topeka, K.S., on vitamin stability in canned and extruded pet food. Cited in De Tran et al. 2008.